Kurt McKee

lessons learned in production


Hey there! This article was written in 2010.

It might not have aged well for any number of reasons, so keep that in mind when reading (or clicking outgoing links!).

Link Widgets for Firefox

Posted 24 June 2010 in extension, firefox, keyboard, productivity, and technology

For a long time I've loved having the Link Widgets extension for Firefox installed; it has very powerful navigational tools that look at the webpage content and determine what the "Next" and "Previous" pages are, relative to the current page. (As an example, if I'm viewing a comic from May 23, the May 22nd and May 24th comics are the previous and next pages, respectively.) If the webpage doesn't provide explicit semantic links to adjacent pages in the HTML, Link Widgets will look through the webpage for links with words like "next", "back", and "previous". And if it doesn't find anything like that, it will actually look at the URL and guess that a number like "23" (following my May 23rd comic example) can be decremented and incremented for the previous and next URLs!

However, while reading The Adventures of Tintin - Breaking Free I was struck by the extraordinary difficulty of fidgeting with my mouse to click "next" (either the in-page link or the Link Widgets toolbar button). Then, after reading the entire thing, I accidentally pressed Ctrl+, instead of Ctrl+L and was surprised that the previous page loaded instead of the focus jumping to the address bar.

Lo-and-behold, Link Widgets supports keyboard shortcuts for going forward or backward in a sequence of webpages: Ctrl+, and Ctrl+. (the mnemonic being the left and right angle brackets also on those keys). There's absolutely no documentation of this feature, so I wanted to share not just that this great extension exists, but that it has convenient keyboard shortcuts for people like me who prefer to lean back in a chair with a keyboard instead of hunching over the desk with a mouse.

Bonus: I no longer need the Link Widgets toolbar visible, since with these two keyboard shortcuts and the Alt+up shortcut I already knew about, I have all the functionality at my fingertips that I want from the extension!

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